THE two foreigners who were killed following a desperate effort to rescue them from captivity died with a pathetic plea to their surviving abductors to spear their lives moments before they were finally shot.
The Italian and Briton were said to have been shot dead by two of their Boko Haram abductors who suddenly pulled the trigger out of vengeance for their four colleagues killed during an attempt to rescue them by the combined team of British Special Boat Service, the Nigerian Army and State Security Service.
As a precautionary measure, Nigerians living in Italy are said to have become worried about the unfortunate incident and has momentarily restricted their movement until the Nigerian government and their Italian counterparts resolve the diplomatic row which eschewed as a result of the failed rescue attempt.
“You know, there are so many Nigerians living in Italy especially in cities like Rome and Milan. I tried to reach one of my relatives two days ago and he told me he is indoors somewhere as a result of the unpalatable news from Nigeria. Leaders of the two countries should quickly resolve the matter amicably to restore confidence in their citizens.”
Italy has a reasonably large population in Nigeria and also maintains strong commercial presence through energy company ENI which provided the channel through which communication was opened with the kidnappers.
Competent security sources disclosed that those so far arrested during interrogation at the SSS Headquarters in Abuja were they are being detained alleged gave a graphic detail of the last moments of the two victims and why they rejected their appeal to them not to be killed.
Franco Lamobinara, the Italian was said to be the most emotional while Chris Mcmanus, the Briton exhibited initial courage when one of the Boko Haram kidnappers allegedly told him that “It is time for you to die.” Mcmanus allegedly shook his head and said nothing but Lamolinara was said to be trembling all over.
Lamolinara, the Italian speaking in smattering English was quoted as having lamented his bloody end: “I die this way? It is wrong, what have I done to deserve this type of treatment? No, no, no don’t shoot, don’t shoot. I want to meet my family alive in Italy.”
McManus, the Briton was said to have collapsed under tension and sight of blood oozing from the Italian’s chest as he was first to be shot.
“Oh my God, this is evil, don’t do this, please don’t do this, what have we done, it is not right. Oh, my family will hate this.”
Sources described the moment the would-be rescuers stormed Mabera, a suburb of Sokoto, as soon as the Boko Haram abductors learned about the presence of the unwanted guest, they alleged screamed atop their voices.
“We will not die alone; we will go with all the white men. We will kill them before you kill us.”
Security sources quoted the arrested Boko Haram survivors as saying that at that point they turned to Limolinara and Mcmanus and advised them to shout at the intruders not to do anything violence so as to save them from being victims of a likely violent reaction.
It was gathered from another inside source that a Boko Haram member made a desperate call to Sokoto at the time Nigerian security force sneaked into Zaria and engaged in a gun battle with the Islamic sect members before Abu Mohammed and others were arrested. It was alleged that the phone call to the kidnappers’ den in Mabera precipitated the retaliatory killing of the foreigners despite the sudden arrival of the failed rescuers.
Lamonilara and Mcmanus were Engineers who were abducted in Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital in May last year and detained in a hideout in Sokoto.
Boko Haram’s denial
Mohammed, believed to be the ring leader of the group and another factional leader of the Boko Haram, are being interrogated to establish the reason why the hostages were killed and their link with the al-Qaeda, the far-reaching investigation is necessary because Italy and Britain would want to be told why their citizens were killed.
One of the suspects was quoted to have cited a standing order as reason for the senseless killing. “We had a standing instruction to kill the hostages immediately we sight security agents around the building. We were told to kill the hostages since we were not sure of being alive after an encounter with security men.”
However, a faction of the Boko Haram Islamic Sect last week denied involvement in the kidnap and eventual murder of the Italian and Briton.
A source alleged that an unnamed Boko Haram spokesman called a Nigerian Journalist in Sokoto and told him that Boko Haram was involved in kidnapping and would never do it for the reason of extortion.
It had been difficult for the Security Agents to locate the whereabouts of the hostages in last 10 months because their abductors kept re-locating them at the slightest suspicion of security surveillance.
However, the location of Abu Mohammed and some others in Zaria, Kaduna State led to the full blown attempt to rescue the hostages in Sokoto.
“The Sokoto operation began in Zaria. It was gathered that Abu Mohammed faction abducted the hostages. Investigation revealed that while Mohammed hid in Zaria, he kept his hostages in Sokoto as a decoy.”
One of the Boko Haram members arrested was chosen to lead Security Agents to the hideout in Madera Quarters in Sokoto where the hostages were kept.
At the initial point in Zaria, the rescue operation achieved substantial success, but failed in Sokoto as a result of suspected phone call made by a Boko Haram member from Zaria informing their colleagues in Sokoto of an impending visit by security operatives.
National Daily learned that many months of being in detention had a negative impact on Lamolinara and Mcmanus leading to their being seriously ill. According to security sources: “They were always in tears pleading with their abductors to accept financial offer and release them, they could hardly move their limbs, and neither could they eat much especially towards the end of their stay in captivity.”
“The large compound where the hostages had been held was riddled with bullet holes. The room was splattered with blood, prescription drugs including Penicillin, anti-malaria tablets and other toiletries were scattered on the floor of the house making security agents to believe the hostages have been there for a long time.”
British military and Intelligence Officers had been working within Nigeria months in preparation for the operation before a contingent of Special Forces drawn from the elite Special Boat Service were deployed to execute the rescue plans recently.
There was sporadic shooting at the compound where the hostages were held. It was apparent that Boko Haram members on guard there exchanged gun fire with the security team.
“I saw soldiers carrying out five corpses from the house, two were white, three were black,” a source who said about 100 soldiers took part in the excise said. The soldiers came with a tank and two helicopters.
The security team requested for old tyres which they lit and tossed into the building in a bid to smoke the kidnappers out, and then engaged them in an intense gun battle,” a source said. It was gathered that the kidnapped apparently tried to escape by scaling a wall into the next compound on which a house was partially built, but the bullets kept flying around.
The shell from the tank made a big hole on the wall of the partially built house. After about seven hours of heavy shooting, soldiers were able to subdue their Boko Haram opponents and gained access into the house now full of blood and human flesh.
Meanwhile the unfortunate killing of Lamolinara and Mcmanus has cause a diplomatic row between Nigeria, Italy and Britain. While the Italian government official claimed not to be aware of the operation, their British counterpart said it acted with the good intention to save the lives of the victims since Intelligence report had said they would soon be moved to another location where they would be finally killed by their unyielding abductors.
However, Rome demanded from Abuja on one hand, a “detailed reconstruction” of the event leading to the death of its citizen, Franco Lamolinara, in the rescue operation, on the other hand, the Italian government requested a political and diplomatic explanation from London on why it was not consulted before the plan was executed.
British Prime Minister, David Cameron and his Italian counterpart, Mario Monti has been speaking on phone on the death of their citizens. There are cogent diplomatic moves to assuage the aggrieved Italian and families of the victims.
Via National Daily Nigeria
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